Ralleys, Gold Line extension, congestion pricing: HWR, Jan. 18

Art of Transit: 


Dept. of All the Transit News Fit to Print, Courtesy ABC News: 


Some quick hits for a Friday afternoon:

•The Women’s March LA and the One Life March are both Saturday. Hard to say what the crowds will be like but Metro is running extra service. More here. Quasi-related: the Expo Line is a good way to reach the Kingdom Day Parade on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is Monday.

On the subject of rallys and marches, teachers were out in force this a.m. in DTLA:

•The federal government shutdown has depleted Washington Metro’s ridership and the agency says it’s losing $400,000 a day as a result. Bottom line: if things keep up, the agency may have to cut service or borrow money. Hmm.

As Curbed LA notes, Metro CEO Phil Washington told a Metro Board committee earlier this week that staff will be recommending congestion pricing as one way to raise money to build 28 projects in time of the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Not a shocker for those who recall Phil’s report to the Board last month in which he noted congestion pricing could also pay for free transit. More next week on this. Here’s a presentation given to the Board by UCLA professor Michael Manville:

Streetsblog LA has a post on the Gold Line to Montclair project. Attentive readers recall the project has a budget shortfall due to rising construction costs. The Foothill Extension Construction Authority now wants to build project in phases — with the first segment to La Verne. Metro staff have recommended some strategies for stretching the first phase to Pomona, which would allow riders to transfer between the Gold Line and Metrolink. Staff report

•Here’s an eyebrow-raiser of a headline from CityLab: “Los Angeles Passed a Historic Transit Tax. Why Isn’t It Working?”

The obvious quick response there is that Measure M was approved just over two years ago and none of the M-funded projects have been built or open. And that ridership has fallen on Metro’s existing system, not its future one (for those of us without access to the future).

That said, the post goes way deeper than the headline and focuses on a good point: getting people to vote for a ballot measure is one thing, getting them to actually ride transit or plan their cities around transit is a different thing altogether.

Excerpt, which includes quotes from the same Michael Manville who presented to the Metro Board on congestion pricing:

The lesson should be a sobering one for transit agencies around the country, many of which have banged the gong of traffic relief to rally car-driving voters for transit plans. (Denver comes to mind.) This tactic may be politically expedient, but it fails to map a clear path towards increased ridership. On the other hand, [Michael] Manville said, the recipe for transit success is not mysterious: Build good service, and make driving hard. The second part is politically difficult. But failing to rise to the challenge is limiting L.A.’s potential as a real transit town.

Transportation agencies should learn from L.A. and pick their fights now to take the necessary steps to price driving and make room for buses and bikes, Manville told me. In sprawling, congested, liberal-leaning cities, he said, “getting voters to the polls is the easy part.” Breaking old habits: much tougher.

Fair enough. For now. Let’s check back on the “rise to the challenge” part next week 🙂




6 replies

  1. Not so sure we are ready for congestion pricing in LA. It does work where it’s implemented, but at the same time these cities have highly developed mass transit systems with very short headway as well as a large road network. In LA, depending where you live or work, sometimes you don’t really have a choice on how you get somewhere. Commutes between the valley and Westside or downtown only have one or two roads you can take over the mountains. Fast public transit only exists in some areas, so giving up your car for your commute will undoubtedly make it much longer or just more complicated. If there were more choices that had at least vaguely similar speed or convenience, then yes, congestion pricing will be great. Until these things are thought through and more choice is built, this is going to be a rough sell to the public.

  2. Building a light rail line where another passenger rail line is already in operation is shear stupidity. With limited funds one would think the MTA would build a light rail line where they see heavy use of their bus lines and grid lock everyday along those bus routes. The west side was largely developed with the promise a freeway would be built so as their employees and customers could reach these developments with ease. That freeway was planned in the late 1940’s. Caltrans had designed said freeway, purchased the property and was ready to go when Governor Jerry Brown killed with the stroke of a pen. It would be far more advantageous to build a light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to the City of Santa Monica not only to reduce the total grid lock but fulfill the promise made decades ago. One can only guess why this boondoggle, extension of the Gold Line , is being constructed. It certainly not grid lock. It certainly not because there is no freeway nearby. The only apparent answer is money. Big money wants it built, they invested in it in the last election under the guise of political contributions. So a bribe out ways the need of the people. And they wonder why ridership is down.

    • “It would be far more advantageous to build a light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to the City of Santa Monica not only to reduce the total grid lock but fulfill the promise made decades ago.”

      There already is a light rail line and it’s the second crappiest rail line in the county, so no, unless we can build another rail line with express tracks, then no thanks. I’m done with being forced to stop every 0.75 miles along my 15 mile commute to Santa Monica and back to Downtown.

      I’m sorry but shouldn’t we be blame everyone who lives West of La Brea for the lack of rail to the Westside, not a political boondoggle that at least operates at a respectable speed? Last I checked the 1970s and 1980s Westside residents didn’t want Rail or even the SR 2 extension for that matter, except for Century City. Beverly Hills STILL don’t want rail so shouldn’t we put the blame on them as well?

      Maybe this is a stupid comparison, but other cities running 2 rail lines parallel to each other, what’s wrong with that?

      • It would be too wise. If Metro does it right, they put themselves out of work. Lol

  3. delete this comment “not it’s future one” should be the other “its” – thanks for the shout-out to SBLA’s FGL article

    • Good catch! And larger caffeine injection clearly needed on my end. Hello, Diet Mountain Dew…

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source